November 6 - December 1, 2014
Structure and Event
Structure and Event, an exhibition of work by Belgian architect-artist Koen Deprez (b. 1961, Kortrijk), explores the state of architecture today while interrogating, and complicating, its enduring monumentality. Paying special attention to his drawings, collages and interventions, the installation is conceived as a visual essay: a constellation of ideas that can be read from many different angles and that defy the constraints of a chronological survey.
Training and basic principles
Koen Deprez graduated in 1984, from what was then the St. Lukas School of Art and Architecture in Brussels. He subsequently collaborated with OMA (Rotterdam) and Studio Alchimia (Milan). Enriched by these academic and professional experiences, he began developing his passion for landscapes, interiors and urban spaces – a preoccupation of his since the early 1980s. Deprez explores these dislocated and imposing environments via drawings, collages, architecture, isometries and interventions, and even through an educational curriculum.
Structure and event
Architects are occupied with structure. But what happens when people start to turn indifferent, or natural and uncorrupted sites, into habitable spaces? Fuelled by this question, Koen Deprez analyses the actions that occur within his architectural creations, or those he has sketched. While he initially wanted to add events to his structures, his later works are only conceived as platforms for such action. As a result, his desolate landscapes are under constant threat from the future i.e. the disorganizing potential of unknown and unpredictable events. It is the moment between suspense and chaos that, for Deprez, harbours the greatest creative potential: the gaps within the officially regulated space. These can be stages for grassroots, tactical events that destabilise, if only for a fleeting moment, the accepted context. Influenced by the deconstructivist mind-set of the 1980s, Deprez believes in the necessity of disruptive events. Even when extreme, they are a way of dissolving the persistent architectural dichotomy between structure and event, and between form and function.
By tolerating, even facilitating, such events in his structures, Koen Deprez is able to scrutinize human interaction in the built environment. Yet his position towards the scope and impact of human actions is clearly ambiguous. Deprez often returns to a quote by Curzio Malapartes (1898-1957): ‘Man is not meant to live freely in freedom, but to be free inside a prison.’ Belief in mankind’s subjugation is not, however, an excuse for fatalism, resignation or surrender. On the contrary: recognising the constraints enables one to creatively exploit the cracks and holes within the existing urban fabric.
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